Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
The Yellowhammer is a bird I rarely see in the garden. I am more likely to see flashes of this golden bird in groups, all flitting about in field entrances or in grass verges. They seem to be more on the ground than in the air. You’ll see flashes of their golden yellow colour as you walk along the lanes, before you’ll realise it’s a flock of Yellowhammers. They seem to weave amongst the long grasses.
Painting a Yellowhammer bird
I am slowly adding more birds to my watercolour sketch series. The Yellowhammer is a gorgeous bird, with beautiful markings. I created four palette mixes to paint the bird, a yellow, a red, brown and a grey mix. First I painted the birds body, wing and face with the yellow wash. I started with pale yellow washes and then added more layers to the chest and the face. The bird seems a paler yellow underneath.
Next I painted pale red washes to the wings and painted short brushstrokes on the chest. While these layers dried I painted the legs of the Yellowhammer.
Next I began painting with the brown mix. I started with pale brown washes on the wing and small areas on the chest. Also the branch was painted. So then I used a smaller brush then to paint the brown markings on the wings, the lines of feather definition and the markings on the birds face. Then I made the brown mix darker and used the smaller brush to create flecks of feathers on the chest. I also painted the outline of the feet with the brown mix.
Finally I used the grey mix to paint the beak and then turned the mix into a black, to paint the inquisitive eye of the Yellowhammer.
I think this is an apt poem about the Yellowhammer. John Clare seems to have a very good understanding of nature.
The Yellowhammer by John Clare
When shall I see the white-thorn leaves agen,
And yellowhammers gathering the dry bents
By the dyke side, on stilly moor or fen,
Feathered with love and nature’s good intents?
Rude is the tent this architect invents,
Rural the place, with cart ruts by dyke side.
Dead grass, horse hair, and downy-headed bents
Tied to dead thistles–she doth well provide,
Close to a hill of ants where cowslips bloom
And shed oer meadows far their sweet perfume.
In early spring, when winds blow chilly cold,
The yellowhammer, trailing grass, will come
To fix a place and choose an early home,
With yellow breast and head of solid gold.